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Sunday, November 12, 2017


Mr. Abi Ramanathan, Managing Partner,

From Our Building & Construction / November 2017

Mr. Abi Ramanathan starting his Hardware business on a small scale in Chennai 15 years ago has developed into a well-known figure in his chosen field of enterprise today and keeps growing. 

Following is the compilation of the details of his growth from the interview we had with him.

“In 2002, I opened a small proprietary concern in the name and style of “Vairavan Hardware & Electrical “. At that time I was only doing retail sales, buying from Dealers or Distributors and selling to the end users. I had all the items that you normally find in any hardware & electrical
shop. But, I had a very limited stock of everything. 

For about 2 years I have been operating in this manner only. The greatest drawback was the lack of level playing in the market. For example an item that I sell at Rs.33 with bill
would be sold by some other retailer for Rs.32 without bill.

I could never approve of transactions without bill anytime. I have remained rooted to my conviction. But, I also realise that this unethical practice could not be corrected
by one individual like me.

I started contemplating about the changes that could be introduced in the business without compromising my principles. Prompted by my analysis of options, I selected
one area of my business namely ‘Plumbing’.

That is the background of the birth of my “Abhi Vairavan’s
Plumbing Co” that you see here today. I started meeting the builders and obtaining orders from them directly.

At some places they presented to me a price lists that were lower than the one I presented to them. Then only I realised that I was on a different level and altered my

I approached the manufacturers directly and offered to be their stockiest. From then on selling to the end users on retail basis and offering sub-dealership and so on for the
next 2 to 3 years the business was growing up smoothly.
In those days people bought just half a ground or one ground land and constructed houses. Hence their requirement for toilets was low. 

But, nowadays, when constructions are carried on vast areas of land say 300 acres or so, and the requirement for toilets rises to 3000 and more, the builders would necessarily contemplate to get their required items directly from the manufacturers.

Yet, some manufacturing companies prefer to supply only through a Distributor.

Taking advantage of that, around 2005-06 I obtained the
Distributorship from Hindware Company for their sanitary ware products. Subsequently;

I obtained Distributorship for CRI Pumps, Star Pipes and Ajai Pipes etc.

These companies may have dealers in other areas. But, we will be at par with each other no one will have a better hand over the other.

But, while we are retailers there will be lot of others better placed
than us.

Later I undertook expansion of my godown facility and appointed sub-dealers and with that my company started growing further.

From 2007, I began taking plumbing contracts too. At that time I myself met the customers to understand their taste, expectation and their actual requirement and all.

On one such occasion I got to meet the General Manager of Chettinadu Builders. As he liked my approach, he asked me to take up the big plumbing contract for Rani Meiyammai Towers at Raja Annamalai Puram. Though I hesitated initially, accepted the contract and completed it successfully.

Though basically I am a B.Com graduate, leaving everything else behind, I chose this line because I sensed that it has a great scope for expansion.

In any other line of business I didnot foresee the kind of expansion and growth that this line of activity seemed to offer. Initially it was a bit difficult as I lacked the technical knowhow. 

During 2006-07 contracts started pouring in. At times, when any of the clients recommend products other than Hindware
products, I approach the wholesalers of those products
and make it available to my clients.

The difference between our competitors and us is that when
they know 3 products, we know 30 products and their distributers in the field.

From 2008, joining me as a Partner, my sister Mrs.
Renganayaki started looking after sales and doubling it year after year. During that period we took up distributorship for branded products like Sintex water tanks, taking care to see that everything is related to Plumbing.

Normally, sanitary contractors handle Tiles also together.
But, from the beginning, as I have been focusing on just
Pipes and Fittings, I could not get out of it and moreover,
as there is plenty of opportunity in this itself, I have not
gone near Tiles.

We are supplying to 500 to 600 Hardware stores out of
the total of 2000 Hardware stores currently in Chennai.
There is no area restriction whatever for selling Hindware
products. Anyone can sell them in any locality. If we leave
out any area competitors will grab it. That is the reason for
this approach.

Even though the Chinese products are cheap and look
modern, spares are not available in the market. Till now, if you want a spare, you have to buy another such product and take the part from that. That is ridiculous. It is equal to replacing the product.

Big builders, I mean A Class builders do not go near Chinese
products. B or C Class builders might go for them. There are no such issues with Branded products. We will always keep
sufficient spares on hand.

Apart from sales, we have a separate team consisting of
Managers, Supervisors to look after the contract works.
My wife takes care of it exclusively and whenever I get
time I shoulder the responsibility too.

Latest addition is the Modular Toilets, various U fittings
and pressure pumps aimed to increase the efficiency of
the system and reduce consumption of water. Instead of
draining the 9 litters as earlier, there are 3 litter 6 litter
options that can be activated through press of separate
buttons and one can use just the required quantity of

Most importantly, I am very careful in selection of my
staff. I give importance to right qualification as well as
proximity to the office. For some jobs I select only married women. I encourage them by fixing the salary on incentive system. 

For those who do not get motivated by that, I put
them on time basis.

As my office is run on a specific system, I will come to know the moment any slag or error occurs. Maintaining quality and punctuality alone has helped us pull on successfully all
these years.

We are proud to be one of the 5 companies doing the plumbing contracts for big corporates. To overcome the shortage of plumbers, we keep empaneling them
regularly through our advertisements in newspapers. We have a HR official exclusively for this.

Many of the A Class Builders in Chennai are my clients.
Improving the supply with limited contracts is my aim.
We give importance to after sale service.
For those who do proper business, GST is only an advantage. We get a level playing ground. Earlier a
commodity costing Rs.100 with tax rate of 14% was sold for Rs114. 

Now cost of the same commodity being Rs.86 and GST being 28% the end user pays only Rs.110 and that is a clear reduction of Rs. 4.

In my opinion, there is no adverse effect due to GST. Even
the so called anomalies will get sorted out within a year, I

As we give our efforts, time, and skill to Hindware
Company, they also give us the priority in return. That
helps us handle competition. 

Now recently we opened separate showroom space for Jaguar, Kohler sanitary ware and bathroom fittings. 

That makes it a complete bathroom sanitary ware showroom catering all categories of customers

Of course the collection takes a bit longer. What
was coming in 30 days now comes in 45 days.

For plumbing needs, only celebrity customers approach architects. We have launched a Help Line for plumbing
requirements. It has a database of 400 plumbers operating in Chennai.

Learning their skill and proficiency from their previous employers, we give them star ratings.

This will be useful for customers, plumbers and for us too.
Arranging one or two meetings, we bring the companies
like Hindware and the plumbers together. At present we
have 80 people working for us in our Trading company
apart from contract team.

By 2018, we plan to open mega showrooms at places like
Chrompet, Adyar, and Annanagar and so on. The
preparatory works are on. Word of mouth is best form of marketing, just give best possible service to your one customer and he will bring at least ten customers without any cost for marketing,” said Mr. Abi Ramanathan as we took leave wishing him to open many showrooms not only in Chennai but throughout Tamilnadu.

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THE BUSINESS WITH UNCOMPROMISING PRINCIPLES - Abi Ramanathan, ABHI VAIRA VAN ’S PLUMBING CO Reviewed by Investment Guru on November 12, 2017 Rating: 5 “THE BUSINESS WITH UNCOMPROMISING PRINCIPLES” Mr. Abi Ramanathan, Managing Partner, ABHI VAIRAVAN ’S PLUMBING CO From Our Building &am...

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